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Preparing for the Switch: How to Ready Your Agency for a New Management System

Preparing for the Switch: How to Ready Your Agency for a New Management System

Switching your agency management system is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as an agency. Choosing a new system is a feat of its own, and only the first step in your system conversion process. However, switching systems doesn’t have to be painful! Preparation is the best medicine to save you and your agency from headaches.

Check out what 9 things to look for in an agency management system and provider

6 Tips for Making Your Transition Easy

1. Get team buy-in

Start the process by ensuring key agency team members view the system. Just as you would when purchasing a car or a home, your team should test out and poke around in each potential system. Make sure the work they do day in and day out are just as easy, if not easier, in the new agency management system.

After the “test drive”, ask for (and take!) advice and opinions. This small act helps agency members invest in the new system, making your conversion process easier.

2. Pick a strategic start date

Even the best conversion processes have some hiccups and hang-ups. Give your agency space by scheduling your transition during a less busy time of year. Determine when you have the least amount of renewals or select a time around a holiday. A strategic start date will manage stress.

3. Get your data ready

Data transfer can be the most difficult part of converting from one management system to another. Think about how your data needs to be managed to get it ready for conversion. Take the opportunity to clean your data and create a plan on how to re-enter or capture and save all the data that will not convert.

Get ready for your management system conversion with our Conversion Checklist

4. Audit your workflows

This fresh re-start in a new system is the perfect time to roll out the most well-organized operations you can achieve. Gather your team and go over every workflow, from documenting prospect interactions to processing a renewal. This is your chance to make sure your workflows are the most efficient and up to E&O standards.

5. Be deliberate about training

Learning a brand-new management system isn’t an easy task. Ensure your staff has all the training resources they need to make it as smooth as possible.

Plan ahead: four to six weeks before your switch, schedule an hour a week to train as an agency or department. Conduct your workflow audit during this time and go over how to integrate them into your new system. Have each team member teach a different session to empower them and create power users within your agency.

Read more on the “how” and “why” of management system training

If your new management system offers onsite training BUY IT! We’ve seen hundreds of agencies transition from dozens of different systems, and each has pointed to onsite training as essential to a smooth transition. This training should happen after your team has started on your new system so you can ask pointed questions about workflows.

6. Be patient!

Have patience with yourself, your team, and anyone involved in the transition. Switching agency management systems is not an easy task. It’s a major change for any agency, needing to relearn the daily tasks you used to know by heart. But, after a few weeks, those tasks get easier and soon it will all feel back to normal. As a leader in your agency, being patience and supportive of your team is vital.

Finding the Right Partner

At SIS, patience and support have been what makes each agency transition successful. We’re determined to be with your agency each step of the way, from sign-on to go-live. Nothing can replace that personal attention and always-extended helping hand.

You can find out more about our training and support services on our website, sispartnerplatform.com. Or, you can give us a call at 800.747.7005, Option 6. We’re here by the phone ready to help.

New Employees and Your Agency Management System

New Employees and Your Agency Management System

Congratulations – you’ve finally hired someone for that position! No more resumes or interviews to wade through; you’ve got someone in that spot.

But, now they’ve got questions: Where’s my desk? Who do I report to? How do I use your agency management system? What are our goals?

The on-boarding process is just beginning. And it’s a critical piece to employee, and agency, success. In those first few weeks and months, you and your staff need to help your new hire become part of the team.

Read how the SIS staff partners with agencies to become part of their team

The process can be more difficult for independent agencies, many of which are family-owned and operated. How do you explain what has become second nature for your staff?

Start with three simple steps.

3 Steps to Training a New Employee on your Agency Management System

  1. Create a New Hire Training Program
  2. Leverage your Agency Management Systems Resources
  3. Set Goals and Give Feedback

Create a New Hire Training Program

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

One of my high school teachers put this up the day before every test. It rang true to me then and rings true now in preparing for a new hire. If you want new employees to hit the ground running, you have to prepare the ground.

[bctt tweet=”If a new hire fails in the first few weeks or months, it may not be the fault of the hire.” username=””]Lack of clear and concise directions puts them on unstable footing. A training program does the opposite. Put together a program covering agency management system training and organizational/culture training. Both are essential to your new hire’s acclimation to the agency.

Get tips on how to set-up and improve your training program

Leverage your Agency Management Systems Resources

You don’t have to create a plan and administer training all on your own. Agency management system providers have resources to help new employees adjust to the system. Reach out to your provider to explore your options.

At SIS, we offer an online learning management system and in-person training sessions. Our agencies have access to video tutorials, a test Partner XE for new hire practice, and free one-on-one webinar or in-person training for all new employees. See what your provider has to offer and integrate these pieces into your training plan.

Discover where to learn how to use your management system efficiently

Set Goals and Give Feedback

New employees need the most direction and feedback. Help your new hire stay on the right learning path: set achievable goals and make time to meet and discuss progress and questions. This set-up allows you to measure the employee’s success. It also helps new hires measure their own success, building confidence and keeping them motivated.

Feedback should be both positive and constructive. Habits are formed early. Encourage positive habits and discourage negative ones. Such constructive feedback helps you mold new hires into the employees you need for success.

Find out how to set and achieve goals for your agency overall

Continue to Grow your Agency

Each new hire is an opportunity to grow your agency. Establishing expectations and solidifying procedures and workflows early on sets each new hire up for positive growth, benefitting them and your agency. If all your employees are on the path to growth, your agency will be, too.

 Find out more about SIS training resources and the Partner XE system. Contact us at 800.747.7005, Option 6 or sales@sisware.com for a personal consultation

Agency Management System Conversion: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Agency Management System Conversion: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Going through a management system conversion can be a trying time. Much is riding on your data’s safe arrival, and the process can be stressful. Unfortunately, some agencies overlook conversion history when seeking a new provider. For those agencies, once conversion starts they wonder if it’s all worth it.

I’m here to tell you conversion can and should be relatively stress-free – if done right.

In my role as Manager of Conversion and Implementations at SIS, I’ve personally helped hundreds of agencies through a positive conversion process. And I’ve heard horror stories of conversions gone wrong with other providers. In my experience, the success of conversion depends on what the agency puts in and the experience and expertise of the new provider. Too often agencies come at conversion with dread and anxiety. These feelings are heightened when a provider expects the agency to do the brunt of the conversion work.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Let’s start off by looking at “the good” in the agency conversion process.

Prep for your management system transition with our Conversion Checklist

The Good: A Fresh Start

Converting to a new management system is a little like moving: there’s lots to be done, but you get a chance to start fresh. Think of your conversion as “spring cleaning” for your agency. Often some of the positive outcomes of a change include:

  • Getting all team members on the same page: No more confusion about best practices and most efficient paths. Each employee will be trained to know the system in the same way.
  • Improving workflows: This is your chance to reevaluate your current workflows and processes, establishing the best methods with your new system.
  • Cleaning up your data: Take the time to rid your agency of duplications and old policy data. Start off fresh, and set up regular check-ins to keep your data clean.

The keys to harnessing “the good” of agency conversion are communication and planning. Consult with your team before the conversion starts so you’re on the same page. Create a plan together and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

The Bad: Accounting Conversion

The bad news of conversion is some items will not carry over automatically. One item that stands out is accounting data. But, it’s not all bad. As with the rest of conversion, your agency gets a fresh start with accounting. It’s a great opportunity to:

  • Clean up unwanted accounts and hit the re-set on data entry
  • Determine how checks and invoices will look on the new system
  • Hone how to set up employees and commission

It’s not often you get this chance to clean house and start anew. Take full advantage of this opportunity to establish and maintain accurate accounting records.

Find out how to get your agency finances in order

The Ugly: Agencies Bearing the Burden

I wish I didn’t need to mention “the ugly.” But, I still hear stories from agencies going through this every day. Some management system providers don’t do a full data conversion, instead offering only an initial load (i-Load). This means only carriers that download are added to your system. In our opinion, this shouldn’t be considered a conversion at all. Agencies get stuck doing the bulk of the work, of manually moving all of the items not included in a download.  That can be a big mountain to climb

And unfortunately, it can get worse.  Some providers make agencies do the painful task of importing data themselves. Agencies have to put all client and policy information in Excel and import into their new management system. In this case, you shouldn’t even pay for the conversion – you’ve done it all yourself! The results of such “self-conversions” are disastrous at worst and extremely time consuming at best. The whole process typically takes months of work for an agency.

Get tips on vetting potential providers to ensure a positive conversion

The Key: Get More than Just a Provider

So, how do you guarantee you get only the good in the conversion process? The key is finding more than a provider, but a partner. That’s our goal at SIS. Our experienced team works with and for our clients through the conversion process, staying connected throughout and providing continual support after go-live.

With over 500 agency management system transitions and counting, we’re comfortable with the process and pass that serenity on to our clients.

Find out more about us and our Partner XE system: contact SIS today at sales@sisware.com or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

Essential Insurance Agent Tools

Essential Insurance Agent Tools

When you think essential agency tools, your management system is likely first on your mind. Though this system does a lot (okay, almost everything) for your agency, it alone is not enough to compete with the fast-paced insurance industry.

To stay on top of progress, you need to add other tools to improve insurance agency workflows, creating an adaptable management system. With these tools, you will boost your system’s agility and better serve both customers and prospects alike.

Find out how to select the best management system for your agency here

Comparative Raters

Integrating comparative raters into your agency management system allows for quick, easy policy comparisons. As Kayak or Priceline does for travel, raters do for insurance. With an imbedded comparative rater in your agency management system, you can get back to prospects and clients faster with the best policy options and premiums to fit their needs.

Customer Portals

Creating a space where your customers can view and update their information not only streamlines your communications, it provides customers with a sense of security. Knowing they can view and update their information at any time means customers feel in control.

Such portals should be an extension of your management system and accessible on your agency website. In these portals, customers can print certificates and ID cards, look up policy information, and update their contact information, among other actions. Providing this quick access to information makes your agency versatile.

Mobile Apps

Naturally, mobile apps play a big part in mobilizing your agency management system. Agencies use their mobile app as an extension of their management system, allowing them “on-the-go” access to all their system has to offer. Producers use their management system’s app to look up prospect and client policy info, view contact history and update important records. Customers take advantage of agency mobile apps during emergencies, snapping photos of accidents and initiating claims in the moment.

Discover more apps to improve your sales and service

Scanners

Having a scanner may not intuitively translate to improving system workflows, but scanning plays a critical role in an important initiative: going paperless. A paperless agency is no longer a trend, it’s a requirement. Storing documents virtually protects them from disaster and theft and improves E&O protection. Adding a scanner to each workstation makes going paperless that much easier.

Get tips on going paperless here

Email

It’s 2017. Each member of your agency should have their own email address and check it regularly. Customers now rely on email communication, and many times prefer it over in-person or phone calls to get business done. The speed of email is its charm. Policy documents can now be sent, signed, and securely returned through email. And the best systems include email integration so you can send and store emails and easily attach documents right from your management system portal.

Internet Providers

Working with a reliable internet provider is integral to your agency, and especially your management system operations. Your agency needs a provider with reliable upload and downloads speeds that are able to handle the large amount of data you’re processing daily. One way to ensure you’re getting the speeds you paid for is to test them on Speedtest.net, a website that rates your upload and download speeds. Your provider should also be responsive to any issues, getting your agency back online quickly.

These tools, coupled with an adaptable agency management system, will help you stay a cut above the rest. At SIS, we work with multiple partners to bring mobile, online rating, paperless workflows, and other efficiency-wielding tools into our Partner XE management system. We’re constantly improving our system, taking requests from our clients, and challenging the status quo in the industry.

To find out more about SIS and our Partner XE agency management system, contact us here or at 800.747.7005, Option 6.

See how one Utah agency reinvested in their business here.

These are just a sampling of the many learning resources we provide to our clients. But, the greatest resource is the clients themselves. We at SIS look for ways to connect clients, encouraging them to share best practices and learn from each other’s mistakes. Through regional learning workshops and client-run workgroups, our agency partners are constantly investigating and improving the Partner XE management system.

Through these tools and networking opportunities, we help our clients get the first down they need. I challenge you to do the same.

To find out more, connect with us at sales@sisware.com

Call an Audible with Your Agency Management System

Call an Audible with Your Agency Management System

It’s October: time for football, pumpkin flavored everything and of course annual price increases.

Each year around this time, providers update premiums on cable, satellite radio, agency management systems, and other products. I can’t blame them. Inflation affects us all. Yet, like a quarterback on fourth down, these changes prompt a mad scramble to get my money’s worth. Do I switch to a new provider? Do I cut my services? How can I get more out of what I’m paying?

When it comes down to it, I have the option to adjust what’s happening. Rather than accept what is “given” to me, I can call an audible and change the play.  For agencies, this can look like reinvesting in learning, taking advantage of resources, and looking for ways to gain the advantages available to them.

See how you can get the most out of your system here.

Until I sat down to write this post, I’d never considered this option. And I’m not alone.

I work with agencies on a regular basis and find many aren’t maximizing use of their management system. They overlook capabilities like email integration and customized reporting, paying for time-savers they never use. For many, their agency management system is one of their highest expenses, yet their most underutilized.

Sadly most agencies simply don’t know where to go for help. As a National Account Manager for Strategic Insurance Software (SIS), it’s my mission to ensure clients never feel this way. I strive to connect each agency with tools to use our Partner XE agency management system to its fullest so that they get the most out of their investment. Tools like:

  • Personalized onsite and online training workshops walking clients through the most efficient ways to use the Partner XE system
  • Monthly webinars targeting how to best utilize specific capabilities, workflows, and systems
  • Online Knowledge Base, QuickGuides, and Learning Center linking users to step-by-step guides and how-to videos

See how one Utah agency reinvested in their business here.

These are just a sampling of the many learning resources we provide to our clients. But, the greatest resource is the clients themselves. We at SIS look for ways to connect clients, encouraging them to share best practices and learn from each other’s mistakes. Through regional learning workshops and client-run workgroups, our agency partners are constantly investigating and improving the Partner XE management system.

Through these tools and networking opportunities, we help our clients get the first down they need. I challenge you to do the same.

To find out more, connect with us at sales@sisware.com